Saturday, September 22, 2012

The gratitude trap

I like being grateful for the blessings in my life.

My husband. My health. Being able to see, hear, and walk. Being able to read complex literature. Living in a quiet, gentle neighborhood. My capacity for optimism. All of the colors in the spectrum. Joe’s O’s on the kitchen shelf, milk and Dole Orange Peach Mango juice in the refrigerator. And so on.

Gratitude is great.

Unless it’s imposed from the outside.

There’s a difference between being grateful for what is and being told you should be grateful for what is. If you are forced to live in your car, and someone tells you to be grateful you have a roof over your head, will it make you feel better?

I think not.

If I had no shoes, and someone told me to think of the person with no feet, I would interpret it as, “Shut up about your problems; I don’t want to hear it.”

Any kind of complaint or lament, no matter how justified, is labeled “whining.”

Gratitude is great.

Unless it gets in the way of better.

I was grateful for my office job until I was laid off three years ago. I had been working outside the home constantly since 1991. In that time, I often dreamed about working out of the home (as a writer). I sold a handful of short stories (and one biography of Medgar Evers), and tried to sell some screenplays, but I never fought that hard because I had the steady job to fall back on. When that was gone, I was on my own. I started working from home and soliciting my own business. So far, I’ve had some victories, but less than I wanted so far.

I often wonder if I had been bolder earlier in my life, would I be financially secure right now? If I had been reaching for more instead of nesting in gratitude, perhaps I’d have more digits in my bank accounts.

Gratitude is great.

But attitude gets things moving.

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